Teri Kanefield
+ Your AuthorsArchive @Teri_Kanefield Author, lawyer (UC Berkeley) My threads are here: terikanefield-blog.com/ NBC News Opinion contributor Impeachment notes: impeachment-trump.com/ Apr. 07, 2019 8 min read

(Thread) Libertarians: Destroyers of Democracy

Libertarian Peter Thiel said, "I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.”  https://www.cato-unbound.org/2009/04/13/peter-thiel/education-libertarian 

(h/t @JemezStargazer for the quotation)

2/ I’m surprised it took Thiel—an intelligent Stanford Law grad—so long to figure out that freedom (as defined by libertarians) isn’t compatible with democracy.

When I say democracy, I mean liberal democracy in the classic sense👇

2/ Libertarianism, according to👇 means "the only actions that should be forbidden by law are those that involve the initiation of force against those who have not themselves used force."

Libertarians view government regs and the agencies that promulgate them as a form of force.

3/ Let's pin this down on specifics.

Does individual liberty mean I can build a factory and dump toxins into the air and water?

Can I trade stocks on inside information?

Can I sell my luxury condos to Russian oligarchs and hide the source of the money?

4/ Can I chop down all the redwoods and sell the lumber?

I suggest that libertarians don’t mind Trump’s law breaking because he’s breaking the laws they don’t think should exist.

They love property rights — but who decides who owns what?
Like, who gets to own all the redwoods?

5/ Does ownership go to whoever grabs first?

Let’s say 20 libertarians move to an island and set up a Libertarian Utopia. How do they decide who owns what? Do they divide the island into 20 parts?

What if I end up owning the only source of fresh water?

6/ Free market means I can charge whatever I want, right? So I live like royalty and the others do my work. Libertarian utopia?

The Libertarian Party platform contains this sentence👇  https://www.lp.org/platform/  Two other major libertarian websites have similar sentences.

7/ The idea is that unless the Constitution specifically calls for a program or service, we shouldn't have it.

I emailed all three sites and asked, “Which federal programs and services are required under the Constitution?” (I asked nicely)

Nobody responded 🤷‍♀️

8/ Perhaps nobody answered because there are no specific services required by the Constitution.
So by libertarian logic, we shouldn't have any.

Here’s what they overlook: The Constitution grants the federal government power to create laws that provide for “the common welfare.”

9/ We have federal agencies and lots of laws because they promote the common welfare.

And about those taxes libertarians don’t like: Industry can’t function without infrastructure like highways. Who is going to pay for it?

It seems to me that privatize=whoever grabs first gets

10/ This book👇is a well-written piece of propaganda, complete with an incorrect, simplified, and whitewashed [literally] view of American history.

Boaz tells us America was founded on the precepts of individual liberty.

We can stop right there.

11/ The nation was founded on the institution of slavery. And taking land from native people (whoever grabs gets).

Boaz, like most libertarians, loves quoting Thomas Jefferson.

When Jefferson said beautiful things about liberty, he didn’t mean for everyone. He meant white men.

12/ Libertarians overlook the fact that there were two rival factions at the founding of the nation, the Jeffersonians and Hamiltonians.

Hamilton was anti-slavery and in favor of a strong central government.
Jefferson thought individual liberty meant the freedom to own slaves.

13/ The view of the Confederacy was that it was fighting for liberty—defending the Southern “way of life.”

When the Supreme Court declared segregation unconstitutional in 1954, libertarians denounced the decision as federal overreach.
They also oppose affirmative action.

14/ MacLean enraged libertarians by arguing that libertarianism is based in racism.

Libertarians are in favor of individual liberty, which to them means the government can’t tell them who to hire, or who they have to let into their restaurants.

15/ When asked why the libertarian party consisted largely of white men, Boaz said, “another way to put that would be well-educated people.”

🤔Maybe because of coverture laws (h/t @jg_environ) and hundreds of years of a few white men grabbing everything?

16/ One theory is that libertarians align with autocrats, segregationists, and white supremacists because they share a common enemy: liberal democracy and the liberal establishment.

17/ Libertarians particularly hate it when governments bail out industries.  https://www.thedailybeast.com/what-you-can-learn-from-the-libertarian-manifesto 

They also like to talk about “creative destruction,” whereby innovation replaces outdated products or processes and essentially destroys them.

18/ They seem to apply “creative destruction” to letting entire industries or banks fail.

Let them fail! A new better thing will arise from the ashes👇

Here’s the problem: If a bank or major industry fails, it will inflict pain and suffering on large numbers of people.

19/ Imagine what would happen if a major bank fails.

Large numbers of people would lose everything and fall into poverty. If major industries fail, the people who suffer could number in the millions.

This brings us to one of many problems with libertarianism:

20/ They're fine with widespread suffering.

A colleague once told me that he resented the fact that his tax dollars paid for legal representation for the poor.

I immediately imagined what it would be like if (once more) only the wealthy could afford lawyers.

21/ Innocent poor would go to jail in large numbers. Lower income families and communities would be ripped apart, plunging them into poverty (you can’t support a family from jail). The poor communities would get poorer. Children would grow up troubled without adequate education.

22/ It would get easier to prey on the uneducated.

Libertarians, like other Trump supporters, view the American government as illegitimate.

That's why they love it when Trump attacks free press, dismantles regulatory agencies, attacks rule of law—and even lies and cheats.

23/ It’s creative destruction. A desire to dismantle a government they believe is illegitimate is why they pretend to believe all of Trump’s lies. See 👇
The lies are destructive. Destroy it all!

They think a libertarian utopia will rise from the ashes.

24/ If the libertarians manage to get rid of the New Deal, all federal agencies, and the federal income tax on the ground that they’re all unconstitutional — there'd be chaos.

Entire industries would be thrown into bedlam. There’d be widespread suffering and pain.

25/ But they’re okay with that, as long as the government that taxes them and limits their “individual liberty” is gone.

Democracy can't exist if the income inequality is too extreme.
If that happens we have oligarchy. The way to get there is destroy every government program.

26/ Maybe that’s what Libertarian Senator Rand Paul was doing in Moscow, hobnobbing with the same Russians who interfered in our election.

Senator McCain even accused Sen. Paul of working for Putin:  https://www.cnn.com/2017/03/16/politics/john-mccain-rand-paul-rule-19-vladimir-putin/index.html 

27/Russia state TV declared Paul a Russian “loyalist” because he voted against sanctions and supported Trump’s performance at Helsinki.

Putin destroys, so the libertarians will stand by and watch.

People need to stop thinking of all Trump’s supporters as uneducated & gullible.

28/ Many libertarians are wealthy, powerful, & highly educated and good with propaganda.

Put another way, libertarians are the “sado” part of “sadopopulism” 👇

Fortunately, libertarians are a minority. They know if enough people vote, they're doomed.

29/ This may be why Thiel bemoans women (& minorities) voting👇  https://www.cato-unbound.org/2009/04/13/peter-thiel/education-libertarian 
If we get organized and stay focused, we can out vote them.

But don’t expect libertarians to care about Trump’s lying & destructive lawbreaking.
Your outrage probably just amuses them.


Adding: I usually try to read respond to good questions, but the comments are so jammed with libertarians telling me I’m stupid and don’t understand libertarianism, I can’t possibly read them all.

I did read many of them. While often contradictory . . .

. . . different libertarians arguing opposite positions in different places, the libertarian responses were generally consistent on 5 points.

(1) We don’t need government because we don’t have to worry about the principle that “whoever grabs first gets" because . . .

. . . under the Lockean proviso, people won't take more than their share, so greed isn't a concern.

(2) When I pointed out that the libertarian accounts of America’s origins and founding values are one-sided, and overlook the fact that when Jefferson talked about . . .

. . . individual liberty, he meant white men only—and that for a few hundred years, white men benefited from the forced labor of others (including women under the laws of coverture) — I was told that I am a racist wearing racist blinders.

This goes with the “white men are victims” mindset we see on America’s far right wing.

(3) Many libertarians responders said I'm wrong: Libertarians don't like or support Trump. 🤔 Very odd. I was under the distinct impression that people like the Koch brothers and . . .

. . . Peter Thiel are libertarians, and that the Koch brothers want to eliminate social security, the FBI, and public schools.

(4) My main accusation, that libertarian ideals and democracy are Incompatible was generally met with this response:

. . . "Democracy means that 51% forces its will on 49%, so democracy is a bad idea."

Well you see, the reason we have rule of law is to constrain the majority and protect minority populations. John Adams recognized the danger of a tyranny of the majority.

But to enforce rule of law, we need government, which libertarians don't like. Here again we see the idea that white men need to be protected from the majority who wants to take what they have.

(5) The libertarians agree that I am stupid. To quote one, I am a "raving lunatic."

My point in writing this thread was not to justify or even explain libertarianism, but to show why the ideals upon which libertarianism is based are a danger to democracy.

Those of us who want to save democracy need to understand the people trying to undermine and destroy it.

You can follow @Teri_Kanefield.


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